Vanessa here, back again with another recipe.

My boyfriend made a grocery run for us the other day (he wore a mask and kept his distance!) and while in the frozen vegetable area, he said all of the “good veggies” had been taken, but there was a shelf of totally untouched frozen artichoke hearts. He reluctantly grabbed two bags, figuring I could come up with some way to used them. Little did he know I LOVE artichoke hearts, and was ecstatic to see them in the grocery bag.

Fresh, whole artichokes are rather difficult to work with, so this is one of the few veggies that I always buy frozen. If you are feeling adventurous, go for the fresh, whole version. But this recipe is short and sweet.

Take a bag of frozen artichoke hearts and place them in a casserole dish or sheet pan that is big enough for the artichoke hearts to lay in a single layer. We used a Whole Foods store brand bag. There was about two cups of the hearts in this bag, but realistically, you can use however much you want. I personally would have used both bags we had if we were not trying to limit our need to go to the grocery store.

Add a *light* coating of a high heat, clean oil such as coconut oil or avocado oil and toss the hearts. You want the smallest amount of glisten on all of the artichoke hearts. This will help with the browning.

In a separate bowl, mix together gluten free flour (the nuttier the better, I used cassava flour), non-dairy shredded cheese, dried herbs (I prefer oregano, but whatever you have in your cabinet should work), salt, pepper, garlic (fresh or powdered), and paprika. The measurements depend a lot on how much artichoke hearts you use. With my two cups of hearts, I used approximately 1 cup cassava flour, 1/2 cup non-dairy cheese, 1 tbsp dried oregano, and 1 tsp of the other spices. However, you are going to want to use just enough of this mixture to lightly coat the hearts. You are not trying to create a batter, but rather a light textured coating.

Once you have your coating completed, shake it over your lightly oiled artichoke hearts and toss/mix/stir to combined. Make sure all of the hearts are *lightly* coated. I usually sprinkle a little extra non-dairy cheese and salt over the top of the hearts, but that is optional.

You are going to bake the artichoke hearts at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or until they are light browned. You want them to have a very light crunch on the exterior, yet soft and leafy in the inside. Once they are done, I recommend squeezing half a lemon over the top of them. This adds a layer of bright and fresh taste to your frozen veggies!

These are great on their own, but also go really well with a marinara sauce. And if you have an air fryer, you can do the exact same recipe, except in the air fryer instead of the oven.

If you try this recipe, I would LOVE to know how it turns out for you, especially if this if your first time cooking or trying artichoke hearts.

Stay safe and stay healthy!

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I went to Whole Foods right before I started showing symptoms of COVID-19, and while the entire store was pretty bare, I noticed that there was not a single frozen pizza left in the store. While I understand this – everyone was in panic mode, freezer food will last forever and is easy – this is still a little eye opening to me. Homemade pizza is so easy to make if you are willing to spend a little time in the kitchen. I skipped the frozen food aisle and went and grabbed a head of cauliflower and some non-dairy cheese.

Gluten free cauliflower crust is an interesting thing to make. Store bought cauliflower crust is typically yeast risen, which is what gives it the airy, crunch texture that you miss in gluten free foods. This recipe *IS NOT* yeast risen, so go into this with an open mind, and I think you will be pretty impressed with the results.

Start buy cleaning and removing the stem of the cauliflower. Then, break off chunks of the cauliflower and crumble it. Once crumbled, steam it. You can either use a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water, or if you are like me and do not have a steamer basket, you can put the cauliflower in a skillet with just enough water to dampen the bottom of the pan, put the lid on it, and leave it alone for about 10 minutes (checking on it to make sure you do not burn your cauliflower).

Once the cauliflower is soft, set it aside to allow it cool slightly. Once it is cool enough to touch, use blender or food processor to puree cauliflower. You want to make sure you have full pureed the cauliflower and there are no chunks left.

Next, you are going to put puree into the center a clean, thin rag. This is the fun part – twist the edges to create a tight “bag” around the puree. Then keep twisting the edges hard so you create pressure on the puree. Once super tight around the ball of puree, squeeze out as much of the water from the cauliflower as possible. It is important to squeeze out as much water as you can so your crust is not soggy. If you feel like you are not making progress, open the “bag”, fluff the puree, and then squeeze it in the “bag” again.

Once you are satisfied with the amount of water you removed from the puree, put it into a mixing bowl. Add one egg, approximately 1/2 cup dairy free cheese, approximately 1 cup gluten free flour of your choice (I used tiger nut flour) salt, pepper, paprika, and a lot of oregano. Then mix until everything is uniform. You are looking for a soft, lightly sticky dough consistency – if you have not reached this consistency, add a little more flour, and if it becomes too dry, you can always add a little bit of water.

Once you have reached the proper dough like consistency, you are going to press dough into pan of choice, lined with parchment paper, to you desired pizza crust thickness. I would recommend going a little thinner than normal crust to ensure it cooks through and there is no doughy spots or a doughy center. 

Bake the crust at 350F for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Then flip the crust over and bake another 10 minutes, or until golden brown. The flipping process if a little difficult, so take your time, use the parchment paper you lined the pan with, and if you break the crust, don’t worry about it! You can always arrange the crust back together. It will still taste great.

Once both sides are golden brown, you can top as you please. I topped mine with a simple tomato sauce, dairy free cheese, garlic sausage, and cherry tomatoes. Put the pizza back in the over for approximately 10 minutes, or until your toppings are browning and the cheese is melted.

If you make this recipe, I would love to see your pictures, know what you topped the pizza with, and see how yours turned out. The recipe might sound intimidating, but it is not as difficult as you would think. With this crust, you can ditch the frozen pizza with the crazy preservatives and weird thickening ingredients, and instead eat something with real ingredients that you made yourself.

Stay safe, stay health, and remember, you are not alone in this craziness that we are living through. 🙂

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What is it about being stuck at home that makes everyone want to break their diets, or eat something they shouldn’t? I am not immune to this either! Since I put myself on quarantine, I have been craving cookies, and not gluten free/dairy free cookies. If I give into that craving, I will regret it – my digestive system will regret it. So in an effort to stay strong, I came up with a “tortilla” of sorts that can be used in a sweet or savory way.

Who does not love fresh, fluffy, warm tortillas? I am a Texas girl, so one of my all time favorite meals is tacos. However, flour tortillas and corn tortillas are not diet friendly in anyone’s book. If you have some sweet potatoes and cassava flour though, you can make a fresh, decadent tortilla with very little effort!

To start, bake one large (or more) sweet potato- before sticking the potato in the oven, wash well, prick several times with a fork, and wrap in foil. Then you are going to bake at 400F for approximately 45-60 minutes, or until the potato is soft when you squeeze it.

Once you are done baking, let the potato cool down to a touchable temperature. Then you are going to puree until smooth. You can puree the potato in a food processor, blender, or even by hand if you do not have the equipment.

Next, take you puree and add cassava flour (or other flour) to the potatoes and mix. You will want to add 1/2 cup of flour at a time, until the mix holds together like a soft, yet sticky dough. This is all done by feel. You want a dough that can still stick to itself, yet is not so sticky that it coats your hands.

To roll out the tortilla, take two pieces of parchment paper and put a ball of the dough between them. When getting the ball of dough, you want roughly a 3 inch ball, and if you lightly wet your hands first, the dough will not stick as much to your hands. Roll out to desired thickness – I went fairly thin so it would fully cook, and not be doughy inside. Lightly salt the top side of the tortilla. If you are making a sweet version of this tortilla, substitute the salt for your sweetener of choice, and some cinnamon.

Peel the tortilla back from the parchment paper and move to a preheated pan (medium heat). Watch the heat of the pan – you do not want to create burned spots on the tortilla. Cook each side until lightly browned all over. If making a savory version, *lightly* salt once taken from the pan.

These tortillas made me (Vanessa) and my boyfriend some pretty spectacular tacos. We filled our tacos with sausage, some miscellaneous vegetables that we had in the fridge, and non dairy cheese. The the next morning, we took the left over tortillas, re-toasted them in a skillet, and dipped them in maple syrup. They were incredible.

If you make these tortillas, I would LOVE to hear how your experience went. Now is a time to build up our community. If you want to reach out to talk about cooking or baking, I am all ears. Remember, you are not alone.

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On 3/17/2020 I (Vanessa Goldberg) decided to self quarantine. I felt very mild symptoms, and decided it would be best if I stayed home from work to make sure that I would not be spreading COVID-19 to my coworkers and potentially patients. Fast forward a week, and while I have not been “confirmed” (labs are totally overwhelmed with COVID-19 swabs), there is no doubt in my mind that I have (had) the virus.

This is not a blog about COVID though. This is a blog about what I have been doing while locked up in my apartment. The goal of this and any subsequent blogs is to encourage anyone who read this to not be discouraged because you are locked in your home. Instead, you should take this as an opportunity to try something new!

Sometime last week, my boyfriend and I created BANANA CHERRY ALMOND BREAD. Let me tell you, it was incredible. I want to share the recipe with you 🙂

Start with 2 ripe bananas – if your bananas are not ripe, throw them in the oven at 350F for about 5-10 minutes, or until the skin starts to darken. Mash these bananas into a paste in a bowl.

Add 1 cup almond butter, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp vanilla, 1/3 cup sweetener of choice and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Mix until combined.

Next, you can either use 3 eggs or 3 chia or flax eggs. If you go the chia or flax route, take 3 tbsp of the seeds of your choice and 9 tbsp water, mix together and let sit for 5 minutes before using. You should end up with a thick, chunky paste like consistency. Mix your eggs of choice into the batter until combined.

Lastly, I used 1/2 cup frozen cherries, roughly chopped. You can substitute another fruit if you have something else laying around. I would recommend something similar to a cherry or berry though. Fold the cherries or other fruit of choice into the mix until evenly dispersed.

Dump your mixture into a greased loaf pan or into a muffin tin. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes if doing a loaf, or 20 minutes if doing muffins. You will know the bread is done when you are able to stick a fork in it, it comes out clean.

The bread has a slightly more “bread pudding’ like consistency, being that there is no flour in this recipe. If you try this recipe, I would love to hear from you! Send us a message on Facebook or Instagram. If you have an interesting recipe you think I would like, send it my way! But most importantly, stay home and stay healthy.

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First perspective is from Donna, the Mental Health Counselor:

Everyone reacts to stressors differently, and the patients in our practice have presented with worries, fears, and ideas for our office. Some have been worried for us (in the healthcare profession), others have been worried about significant others and parents, while some have concerns for themselves. This is all normal, and we want to help by offering what we are doing, as well as how we are thinking about this threat.

For my part, I am taking my supplements that support my immune system and continuing to work on staying calm and keeping my mental space available for my day to day work and home life. What do I suggest for our patients? First, understand that this virus is very much like the flu, and while a novel virus, not likely to be much more impactful in the long run than any other virus that we run into. It has a higher mortality rate in specific populations, but even in those populations most recover.  Second, make a plan for what would help your immune system be at its best to do its job if you do become infected. And third, understand that you cannot control this, but if you stop your entire life for it, or become so focused on it that you are in a constant state of fear you will only make yourself more susceptible and increase your risk.

What can I do to stay calm? When you feel panicked try doing deep breathing exercises, and focus your mind on your breath, elongating your exhale. This can reduce the stress hormones that your body produces when you are fearful. Another tip is to follow news sources that are trustworthy, that you have fact checked – information can be twisted to get more attention. Finally, remember the serenity prayer. As a therapist I work with people on changing the things that they can, accepting the things they cannot change, and understanding which category each fear/stressor falls into. This virus is a stressor we cannot control currently, but we can plan for how best to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We can understand that we will all most likely be ok and accept that the best way to move forward is optimistically. And remember, if any of you are experiencing high levels of stress or panic, we are all here to help.

Second perspective from Kathy, one of our Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioners:

I have been asked quite often recently what foods and supplements and lifestyle habits can help boost your immune system and reduce your risk during this worldwide Coronavirus outbreak.   

First, eat nutrient dense, whole foods.  This includes lots of plants, good fats and some grass fed, pastured animal protein or wild caught fish. Aim for 9 cups of vegetables and fruits a day (3:1 vegetables to fruit).  Stay away from fried foods and foods laden with sugar and flour.  Nutrient dense, whole foods support a healthy gut microbiome and much of your immunity comes directly from your gut.  Utilize virus and bacteria fighting herbs including garlic, oregano, sage, ginseng, basil, peppermint, rosemary and lemon balm (great as a tea). Take probiotics for additional gut support. 

Second, get good rest and take care of yourself.  Exercise, wash your hands often, wash your face before bed and potentially shower before bed. It has been proven that we are more likely to get sick when we are under stress.  Avoid large crowds when possible. As Donna mentioned, the power to control what you can and release what you can’t is extremely powerful. 

Third, keep your vitamin D levels up.  Infection fighting T-cells need vitamin D to activate.   Your blood levels of vitamin D should optimally be above 60 ng/mL to receive all the benefits of this wonder vitamin.  Add Vitamin C as it is a great antioxidant and is most effective in liposomal form.

Lastly, Consider Zinc,  Elderberry, Ortho Molecular’s Viracid, Bio-Botanical’s Olivirex, NAC and L-Lysine – Zinc is known to shorten cold viruses and boost immunity(lozenges or 30mg capsules), Elderberry stops viruses from replicating (I like Gaia’s syrup or capsules), Viracid is packed with adaptogens and NAC,  Olivirex contains antibacterial and immune boosting Olive leaf extract, goldenseal and garlic, and Lysine inhibits viruses.  You can get Lysine from eating beef, lamb, poultry and tuna.  Lysine in supplement form can help take the virus load down.

Third perspective from Mimi, our Family Nurse Practitioner:

My protective shield against the coronavirus is to supercharge my immune system with everything that it needs to be resilient and efficient. When supplements are administered intravenously, I get 100% bioavailability of the substances vs. taking it orally and only getting a portion of it due to first-pass effect. My IV protocol is simple: A Myer’s cocktail and glutathione. Myer’s has all the wonderful vitamins and minerals such as high dose vitamin C, B vitamins, and magnesium. These are all key ingredients for methylation, which is responsible for a lot of biochemical processes in your body, and vital in the detoxifying pathways. Glutathione is a super-antioxidant and the most important detoxifying molecule. It helps in the clearance of many exogenous and endogenous toxins and damaging substances.

Hand hygiene is very important as well. I scrub/wash my hands whenever I can for at least 20 seconds throughout the day. These two things have protected me during the cold seasons, especially in this last winter when almost every staff and patients around me were sick with some viral illness.

The most important thing to remember is that the fear associated with the virus can be damaging to your immune system. Take the preventative measures, protect yourself, build up your immune system, but do not let fear dictate your actions. Instead of being driven by fear, focus on the prevention and focus on what you are able to control: yourself and your actions.

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